One of the finest reasons to take an interest in Japan is for it's cooking. The whole world could, and should learn from Japan's relationship with food. Choosing what to eat is not a constant choice between choosing something delicious and something healthy, as the most delicious Japanese foods are often very healthy.
One of the core ideas in Japanese cooking is balance. Nutritional balance, flavor balance, color balance, a masterful meal will be one that achieves many levels of balance. One thing I think is missing in many Japanese restaurants in The States is that perfected balance, the bitter pickles that invigorate your tongue making the plain white rice taste sweet. A bite of white rice prepares you for the fatty flavors of tuna, or the salty flavors in miso soup.
It all sounds very conveluted, but the true beauty of Japanese cooking is the simple preparation of simple ingredients.
I have seen and own many Japanese cookbooks, but the only cook book I would recommend would be Japanese Family-Style Recipes by Urakami Hiroko. This book will let you eat like the Japanese do in their own homes, most are exactly the same as the recipes I have gotten from friends here. Cooks of all levels will learn from this book, many of the recipes will likely become regular favorite because they are so delicious, healthy, and easy to prepare. This also includes the most real Japanese food I have ever seen in a cookbook, most Japanese cookbooks in the United States include dishes I have never seen here in Japan, they include recipes that make my head spin, and ask you to shop for dozens of ingredients, very few of the recipes in the book contain over 10 ingredients, yet they are excellent.
I recomend this to:
Busy people who want delicious food
People wanting to eat healthier
People coming to Japan (I wish I had this when I first arrived, It would have saved me a lot of headache of figuring out what to make)
People who like to eat in season
This book has all my favorite foods in it, and I will be buying this book when I get home (I'm borrowing it now). I hope this author is super successful from this book, because this is the gem of Japanese cookbooks.
Japanese Family Style Recipes
by Urakami Hiroko